Avengers West Coast #47-49
Issue(s): Avengers West Coast #47, Avengers West Coast #48, Avengers West Coast #49
Beginning with issue #47 on the cover, and issue #48 in the indicia, the title of this series changes from West Coast Avengers to Avengers West Coast. I discussed the reason for this change in the entry for Avengers Spotlight #21 when that title changed its name from Solo Avengers for the same reason. These are the types of changes that have always driven anal collectors like me buggy. At least i never kept my issues in alphabetical order. But in the Word doc that i use to keep track of what comics i own, i've always continued to list this under West Coast Avengers. And when you look on a website, or when shopping in a comic store, you never know where you're going to find a particular issue. Is issue #49 filed under A or W? And hmmm, they don't have issue #50; is that because some part time employee who couldn't care less filed that one under the other letter?
Anyway, content-wise we're still in the same situation we were in for the previous issues of John Byrne's run. We begin with the Scarlet With pleading with Henry Pym and a visiting Black Panther to help the Vision.
A befuddled Black Panther responds that the Vision doesn't seem to be in any immediate danger. And not only that, but he doesn't see anything different about the Vision since Pym rebuilt him.
There are a couple of things to note here. First is that, contra the laughing we saw in Avengers Spotlight #23, Pym recognizes that this is a serious matter, and that the Vision's "human side, his... soul" is "dead", at least unless Wonder Man agrees to donate his personality matrix again (and i'd argue even then, but at least we're getting this much from Pym). To be sure, he's still acting like an ass to Wanda even if he is working on fixing the computer flaw that allowed the Vision's memories to be wiped in the first place. But who knows how many times a day she comes to beg him for help, and as he says, he's not qualified to help her with her grief.
The bigger news is that the Panther does not recognize that anything has changed about the Vision. That's stunning, frankly. Presumably Byrne is trying to make a point that the Vision's personality evolved over time and he's now reverted to how he was when he first appeared. But i'd argue that a) that's just not true (he cried in Avengers #58, it was the whole fricking point of that story), b) Vision already had Wonder Man's imprints at that point, and c) the Black Panther has seen the Vision many many times since then, as recently as West Coast Avengers annual #3. So i really have no idea what Byrne is getting at here. Anything i can think of says more about the Panther than the Vision (e.g. he has a bias against accepting automatons and therefore was blind to the Vision's humanity). But at least we have Pym confirming that there is a difference.
The Scarlet Witch storms past Wonder Man since he continues to refuse to donate his personality matrix. So he goes to talk to the Wasp, and confirms what was highly implied in issue #45, that he's in love with Wanda.
The Wasp says she's going to help Simon, and almost confirms that she and Hank have been seeing each other again before she's cut off by an alert saying that there's an unauthorized use of a Quinjet.
Also interrupted by that alarm is USAgent finally catching up with Tigra and finding that she's currently not feral but is instead acting like a sex kitten again. Great, just great. Thanks for doing this crap all over again, Byrne.
The Quinjet departure is Scarlet Witch taking Vision to Absolon College in Texas, after receiving their letter last issue. Since none of the Avengers would help her, she's going to outsiders. And she's sneaky about it, too. She initially flies in the direction of the hospital where Phineas Horton is being held, in Washington state, before activating the cloaking device and turning around for Texas. When the Avengers fly to Washington and find she's not there, Wonder Man worries that it's a sign that she might be returning to her Brotherhood of Evil Mutant days.
The West Coast Avengers stay and talk to Horton and get him to reconfirm that the Vision was not made from his android, the original Human Torch. As they talk to him, we see Immortus watching.
When Scarlet Witch and the Vision get to Absolon, we find out right away, if we haven't guessed it already, that they are up to no good.
When the Quinjet is destroyed, a beacon is activated that Captain America gets on the East Coast.
Since Cap has made the decision that both teams should function as one, he and She-Hulk go to investigate the Quinjet.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Witch is letting the Absolon group take the Vision away for investigation while she is led to her private quarters. Byrne is good depicting the emotion of someone's husband being lobotomized, even if i don't like that he's doing it in the first place.
And then even the Scarlet Witch repeats the fallacy that this version of the Vision is like his original form.
As we know from their previous appearances, Mr. Random and the Absolon group aren't really interested in the Vision at all. That was just a ruse to get the Scarlet Witch here. Why? Well, take a deep breath and get ready to take some notes. It turns out that they are controlled by micro-organisms that have been with life on Earth since the first cell split. They pick a particular species or group of species and help it evolve, and when they decide that species has reached a dead end, they abandon it and jump to something new. They claim that it's because they left the dinosaurs that they died out. And now they recognize that mutants are the future, so they want to figure out how to take over mutants. Scarlet Witch has been chosen because she's powerful but easy to control (i'm sure all her fans are thrilled to hear that). And so she's put in that empty room and "invade[d]" by ooze. Gross.
At the moment that happens, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch's babies disappear again.
After she's engulfed, Scarlet Witch is force fed memories of the creatures, which are called That Which Endures.
And the flashbacks allow Byrne to have fun with transitional narration capsules, like he does.
Here's those dinosaurs, which i'll just note were a huge and diverse group of creatures, which is why i wrote that That Which Endures sometimes seems to have taken over a whole group of species.
That Which Endures' decision to take over mutants perhaps confirms the idea that mutants are superior to humans (as if their ability to read our minds, fly, and shoot laser beams out of their eyes wasn't enough)...
...and this gives another opportunity to push the idea that Scarlet Witch is leaning towards the days of her father's teachings.
While that's all happening, Captain America and She-Hulk arrive, and are allowed to see the Vision, but they're told that the Scarlet Witch has left on an errand.
They are given a tour of Absolon's robot facilities, which they think look a lot less sophisticated than anything the Avengers have, if they're not completely fake. That night they sneak back to investigate further...
...and encounter the possessed Scarlet Witch, who throws them for a loop.
And since the West Coast team doesn't seem to get the same distress beacon when a Quinjet is destroyed as Cap does, that means there's only one group left to come to the rescue:
Oh, there's also the Vision, who decides that he's been unattended for too long, which, on further analysis, does not seem in keeping with his wife's expressed concern for his condition.
So he and the GLA fight people possessed by That Which Endures, including She-Hulk...
...and it's actually Mr. Immortal who ends their threat, by going into some kind of irradiated room that housed the device that allowed the That to consciously control people.
Nice to see Mr. Immortal doing his thing, but that device sort of comes out of nowhere and ends the threat with little effort.
We're left with the idea that even if what That said was true, Cap thinks that humanity has something that sets us apart from other organisms.
Of course, if Cap's right, what does that say about the Vision.
Back home, Wasp and Wonder Man continue their earlier conversation. The Wasp is completely on board with getting the Scarlet Witch to fall in love with him.
I guess it's worth mentioning that after the Vision used a modified version of Starfox's mind control power on her, the Wasp has never been comfortable around the Vision, so maybe she's happy to see him pushed out of the picture. And if she really thinks that Wanda's relationship with the Vision was unhealthy, i guess that's why she's not letting Wanda grieve for her dead husband before conspiring to push Simon on her. It would be nice if any of that were actually said, though.
Meanwhile, Tigra goes feral again and Pym has to shrink her down to keep her under control.
In a subplot scene, Starfox is back in space. Ironically, after having given up searching for Nebula, he now finds her.
Interesting to see her back to her old status quo after the whole Kang storyline in Walt Simonson's Avengers run left her stuck in the timestream. That incarnation of her later turns out to be a fake, but was that decided already?
It's also worth noting that Byrne is indeed making good on the idea that the Avengers books are a single unit. We had the West Coast Avengers helping out in the Lava Man storyline, and Cap and She-Hulk are here now, and we also have Starfox showing up here to set up a story that will be told in (East Coast) Avengers.
We're also introduced to an Ann Raymond, who is trying to get to the Avengers after learning that the Vision is not the original Human Torch. We'll later learn that she is the wife of Toro, the original Torch's sidekick (she was actually seen once before in a brief flashback in Sub-Mariner #14).
Pretty good superheroics here (although i can't stand Big Bertha and watching her fight She-Hulk is just awful), but the wringer that Byrne is putting the Scarlet Witch through is excessive. Bad enough that he's killed her husband and is possibly suggesting that she's crazy for ever having fallen in love with him in the first place, but now he's having her mind-controlled by entirely unrelated entities. And on top of that the complete rehash of the Tigra storyline, which was bad enough the first time. Very disappointing storytelling choices from a creator that can still be quite good.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's been 72 hours since USAgent saw Tigra in the kitchen in issue #46. What's funny is that i've had to place this after Avengers #305, which means somehow the rest of the Whackos snuck off to Captain America's meeting while leaving the USAgent behind and he didn't even see them leave.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Nice to see the writers helping She-Hulk get over her mind-control from her earlier Avengers run ;)
Also, in regards to the WCA leaving USAgent alone, I'm sure that was on purpose. He's a real pain in the a@%.
Posted by: clyde | October 7, 2014 6:17 PM
I wonder if That Which Endures has any connection with Sublime, from Grant Morrison's run on X-Men.
Posted by: Berend | October 7, 2014 8:30 PM
Horton describes a synthezoid as a mixture of artificial organs and mechanical parts. This contradicts Hank's definition in issue 57 as something "every inch a human being... except this all his bodily organs are composed of synthetic materials."
Posted by: Michael | October 7, 2014 9:19 PM
I was always under the impression that the two Nebulas were two separate women. Am I misremembering something? Or am I thinking of a later retcon?
Also, I said it before and I'll say it again, JB draws a hot Scarlet Witch.
Posted by: Bill | October 7, 2014 11:11 PM
WCA #42-50 are reprinted in "Vision Quest" TPB.
Posted by: Robert | October 7, 2014 11:20 PM
You're thinking of a later retcon.
Posted by: Michael | October 7, 2014 11:22 PM
The Nebula in the time bubble story is actually Ravonna in disguise.
Since Phineas Horton turned out to be a Space Phantom, do you think there are other characters in these stories who are actually Space Phantoms?
Posted by: Steven | October 8, 2014 1:36 AM
I think "that which endures" is kinda screwed up in its thinking. It took "that" about 160 million years to figure out that the dinosaurs were not worth helping, but it only took "that" less than a million to dump us humans for mutants? That's kind of insulting to us humans.
Reading your commentary, Fnord, its interesting to see how Bryne just ignores whatever came before if it doesn't fit into the narrative he's trying to tell.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 8, 2014 4:14 AM
To be fair, kveto, many writers do that...especially nowadays!
Posted by: Bill | October 8, 2014 11:16 AM
Steven, I think it was established that "Ann Raymond" here was a space phantom too.
These set of issues already demonstrate that the "rotating roster" idea was a bad one. When I first read this I was disappointed to see people usually associated with the East Coast suddenly clog the majority of the book. It lead to a genericization of the line (Something similar would pollute the X-books too.
That Tigra scene is going to cause SO many headaches for so many people...including the person who wrote it!
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 11, 2014 10:12 PM
@Jon- Ann Raymond was real.
Posted by: Michael | October 11, 2014 10:52 PM
I think that Wanda's kids are real. Immortus kidnapped them and replaced them with Space Phantoms. That is why they keep blinking in and out of reality.
Posted by: Steven | October 12, 2014 6:54 PM
This story convinced me that Byrne's long-term plans for Avengers West Coast were going to be quite complex, and that much of his interrupted run was merely set-up.
Byrne has That Which Endures tell its version of its history, which makes it somewhat seem that That Which Endures is responsible for the evolutionary success of a species, but several details in the story suggest that their story is not entirely the truth:
1.) That Which Endures relies on the Assimilator to maintain not just control over human beings, but also their telepathic link between each other. Their natural apply to communicate with each other and exert control over other creatures is limited.
2.) Mutants apparently have not been exposed to That Which Endures, and yet they function better than humans do, from That Which Endures perspective.
3.) Captain America has not trace of That Which a Endures in him, apparently due to the Super Solider Serum, and yet he is seemingly a perfect human, as far as That Which Endures believes.
Given that Byrne has That Which Survives show confusion over Captain America's resistance and compares his condition to that of Mutants, suggests that their account has gaps he deliberately put in, from the start of the storyline.
I suspect That Which Endures is really just a parasite, and that Byrne at some point would have returned to them, cautioning readers not to trust the Bad Guy's explanation -- a theme he was certainly developing in this series in particular.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 11, 2015 5:44 PM
Also, this story might contain the first reference that the Super Solider Serum replicates itself inside Cap's body. She Hulk mentions it while That Which Survives studies Cap in Avengers West Coast #49.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 11, 2015 5:49 PM
Fnord, in regards to Black Panther's take on the Vision - they've only met twice (WCA Annuals #1 and #3) since Vision took out the control crystal and started talking more like a human and both those meetings were brief. That was a big personality change. I would think that's what Hank is referring to.
A little surprised you didn't show what I always thought was a remarkable scene - where Cap leaps out of a plane and comes down and lands on his shield - really shows how the vibranium aspect of it works.
That Mr. Immortal dying scene will basically be played out on a 3rd series episode of Dr. Who with Jack Harkness, except that Jack takes his clothes off first because, well, because he's Jack.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 1, 2015 7:47 AM
I think that when Simon says that bit about Wanda and the Brotherhood it is for two things: to remind us readers that she was part of that villain team (setting up Burne's plans) and to show he cares for her and does not want her to feel like she has no one she can trust. I do not think he is actually saying she is reverting back to a villain.
What triggers her mutant superiority behavior is not what happened to the Vision, but the effect of her brain washing. She was made to assimilate the fact that better species appear that make the previous ones obsolete. She even mentions how all that she learned under That is still in her head (something the rest of her just dismissed).
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | December 13, 2017 2:37 AM
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